Skye McDonald is a true renaissance woman. She is a personal trainer, life coach, and romance novelist. In all her pursuits, she has one main goal: to help you fall in love with yourself and shine a little brighter. Skye was born in Nashville and moved to Brooklyn after college to pursue a career as a teacher. NYC taught her to be tough, resilient, and strong. It took a soul-searching journey summer in Scotland to teach her “how to be gentle again,” as she puts it. Now, she lives in Montclair and balances a gentle approach to life with the strength and confidence necessary to chase her dreams. When she’s not training clients or writing love stories, Skye reads tarot (for herself and professionally), travels, and loves to adventure with her dog, Lincoln. Keep reading to learn more about Skye McDonald and her personal transformation.
Montclair Girl: How long have you lived in Montclair and what inspired you to move there?
Skye McDonald: I moved to Montclair in August of 2020. I’d been wanting to leave Brooklyn for quite some time, and the pandemic only spurred that desire. Montclair is a beautiful town, not far from the city, with a friendly vibe but enough going on that it felt like a natural transition. I have friends who live here, and have been thrilled at the friends I’ve made since moving, too.
MG: What inspired you to become both a personal trainer and life coach?
SM: When I was a teenager, I was obese. I hated my body and yet didn’t know how to make the changes I desperately wanted. When I quit trying fad diets and just started walking, I began a lifelong relationship with fitness, nutrition, and body image acceptance. I know very well that the starting point is one of the hardest parts, but now fitness is such a part of my life that I can’t imagine doing anything else. A day without a workout is like a day without a shower; you’re okay to miss one, but you definitely notice it!
That passion for fitness is combined with the life experiences I’ve had that have taught me how to approach roadblocks, insecurities, and self-doubt. I was a teacher and a mentor for 16 years, so helping others break through limitations has been a part of my job forever! Add in my study of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches skills for realizing the choices we make based on past experiences and how to break that habit, and life coaching is a natural profession for me. Really, though, the two are intrinsically combined to me. Fitness is a mental and physical game. The life coaching lets me help with those walls you hit as you work to make health a part of your balanced, happy lifestyle.
MG: What areas do you serve as a personal trainer?
SM: I train in Montclair and surrounding towns: Bloomfield, Cedar Grove, Clifton, Wayne, etc.
MG: What services do you offer as a life coach?
SM: My area of life coaching expertise is in analyzing behavioral patterns and breaking out of habits. Clients struggling with limiting beliefs, questions about their self-worth, and fears that they are stuck in a cycle of failure are my target demographic. Life coaching sessions with me take the Cognitive Behavioral approach to problem-solving. Together, we set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, time-based), journal about mindset, habits, triumphs, and setbacks, and create strategies to consciously move away from old programming.
MG: As a personal trainer, how important would you say physical activity is for women’s health?
SM: Incredibly important. Maintaining an active lifestyle at all phases of life helps women not only feel good. It also helps prevent diseases and chronic aliments. It keeps cardiac and respiratory health strong through all phases of life and improves balance and coordination. Physical benefits aside, physical activity keeps the mind alert and the hormones regulated which lead to an overall healthier, happier human.
MG: What advice would you offer someone who doesn’t have much experience working out but wants to start?
SM: Go for a walk. Dance in your living room. Just do it every day, even if it’s for a few minutes. So many people think starting working out means squats, gyms, etc. Not at all. The biggest hurdle you face is simply beginning. So, start small and simple. Then be open to what might interest you after that!
MG: What are three easy workout techniques to do from home?
SM: Go for a walk/dance in your living room. Use your sofa to do leg lifts and pushups and then grab 2 cans or water bottles from your kitchen. Voila, instant hand weights!
MG: What are some tips you have for women who feel stuck in life and overly stressed?
SM: Don’t look at the long term. Look at the right now. What is ONE thing you can do differently today? Do that thing.
Set energetic boundaries. When you come home at night, take a minute to stand quietly and envision the day. Breathe in. Breathe out and imagine a bubble around you, and that you’re sending the to-dos outside of your space. They’ll be there tomorrow for you to pick up again if needed. For the evening, you don’t have to carry them around. Journal. If you feel stuck, what would un-stuck look like? Are you truly ready to go for that? What is working right now? How can we build on that?
MG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
SM: My clients! They inspire me with the way they say yes to themselves. With the times they want to quit and don’t. With the way they get rawly honest with me and allow me to hold space for their hopes and fears. That’s incredible. They’re doing the things they’ve been putting off. I’m honored to work with them.
MG: What are your goals for this year?
SM: I’m actively building my client base. That’s a primary goal. I’m also working to create online content podcasts, workouts, and videos that build upon the ABLTY philosophy and can further help clients as they work on their goals. I’m also working to publish my latest novel! It’ll be out around Valentines’ Day. Personally, I’m about to run a 10-mile race, then turn around and do a Spartan obstacle course race the next weekend.
MG: What’s a typical day look like for you?
On a weekday, I’m up at 5AM for yoga and meditation. I am training clients from 5:30-9aAM, and midday is for writing, designing workouts, and corresponding with online clients, and virtual training. I run with Lincoln in the late afternoon, or go hiking at Mills and then, I wrap up the day with a dram of whiskey on my porch and time to journal about the day.
On the weekend, I’m up at 6AM and take a hot yoga at JaiPure Yoga followed by picking up croissants from Le French Dad and coffee from Paper Plane. I sometimes go hiking, gardening, go on a local adventure, or just veg out at home! I love to take a long bath with products from Dolly Moo, getting my nails done at Nail Fitness, a massage at The Woodhouse Day Spa, watch soccer at Egan & Sons, and dine at Zeugma Grill, Dai Kichi Sushi, or Halcyon Brasserie.
MG: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?
SM: I am humbly proud to say there have been too many to count only one. But every time someone says “I loved your book!” or “Thank you for helping me believe in myself!” I count that as a golden moment.
MG: Anything else you want to share about Montclair or yourself.
SM: Montclair is a beautiful town with fantastic people. I was born in Nashville and spent 16 years in Brooklyn. During no part of that did I imagine moving to New Jersey. Now, I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I’m so delighted to be a part of this incredible community!
MG: What is your favorite restaurant in Montclair?
MG: What is your favorite boutique in Montclair?
SM: Dolly Moo.
MG: What do you love most about Montclair?
SM: I love how it’s hip and laid back all at once. You can get basically anything here, from cuisines to cool shops, and yet it’s chill and quiet too!
MG: What is your favorite thing to do in Essex County?
SM: Go hiking!
MG: Tell us about another business in the area you admire.
SM: Houss Freya. I think Daysi is an impressive entrepreneur and beautiful spirit. Her products are fantastic for energy work and self-care, and the events they host at Houss Freya are designed to get the whole community to come together.
MG: What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Essex County?
SM: Mills Reservation.
MG: What is your favorite place to work out in Essex County?
SM: Does it count if I say my house? Otherwise, Brookdale Park.
MG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?
MG: What is something you think needs to come to Montclair?
SM: I mean, a whiskey distillery would be pretty awesome!